Alex Hart

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10 things you should know about Argentina

First of all I should point out these are my personal observations and opinions. People who have visited or are living in Argentina may have quite a different view – no offence intended to anyone!

1. The President
I couldn’t help noticing that Cristina spends a lot of time giving speeches and appearing on TV. She also seems to be a huge fan of botox!  Judging by the general strikes in BA and overall political discontentment, perhaps Cristina could better spend her time concentrating on economic policy than writing her pretty speeches and trying to emulate Evita… I wont get into some of the accusations made re dirty money etc…

Cristina Kirchner – President




2. The state of the Nation
Point no.1 leads me neatly on to point no.2. Argentina’s economy has some serious issues. Inflation is running (unofficially) at around 25%. The Government  control the published figures which show a rate of about half that and which economic observers overseas no longer trust.  Argentinians cannot now purchase any significant amount of US$ legitimately without giving their IRD number equivalent. The black market for foreign currency and the Mafia (which I was told even has a grip on the pharmaceutical industry) are thriving. The number of people living in poverty is increasing and it seems that drastic action is required to pull this proud nation out of the doldrums.

3. Bus Travel
Various people told me that the best way to travel across Argentina is by bus. Having made 2 long journeys (the second over 15 hours!) I have slightly mixed feelings on the subject. Yes travelling ‘Cama’ or executive class is way more comfortable that flying economy by plane – however some of the buses are dirty, smelly, noisy and I can’t bring myself to even discuss the toilet facilities on the second bus! Still overall, a reasonable service and one I would not hesitate to use again.

4. The Beef on Beef
New Zealand has fabulous beef but I have to say in Argentina I ate some of the most wonderful beef I have ever tasted. Dont be confused by the menu however – Bife means steak and not beef so be careful you are ordering steak and not pork nor Llama – whilst nice I am sure,  a big disappointment if you are expecting beef!

5. Whats in the Bathroom?
My advice to all diners is to postpone your trip to the bathroom until after you have eaten. They say a bad bathroom reflects a bad kitchen and if that’s true, trust me you really don’t want to know!!

6. Sweet teeth
Dont have the dulce leche. You will get VERY fat VERY quickly.

7. The War
Talking about the Falklands War (or even just calling the islands the Falklands)is a no no here. However I couldn’t help notice that 2 April 2013 is a special day to comemorate veterans of the Falklands War. I realise Britain suffered something like a third of the fatalities that Argentina did, but wouldn’t it be great if the UK also had a special day outside of the general memorial day?

8. Soap
The Argentinians love their soaps and I have to say – some of these really do put the opera into soap opera! Dos Hogares was my favourite (albeit Mexican). Will Santiago be reunited with his love? Will Chris’s family find out about his double life? Is the actor playing Chris’s wife a man or a woman (hard to tell with all the plastic surgery….)

Laura Leon from dos Hogares – you decide….
9.Bugs and Beasties and things that go bump in the night!
Unusually I did not do that much research into bugs and beasties before my trip (really I didn’t want to know!). Turns out Argentina has a fine array of poisonous creatures including pit vipers and even a variety of black widow spider. My favourite however has to be the vinchuca insect that carries the notorious Chagas disease that can lead to serious heart defects and is particularly prevalent in poor rural areas of Northern Argentina.  Nice……

10. The Beauty of it all
No matter how much time you have, it will never, ever be enough to see all of this beautiful country.

The End
Okay so that’s it for my trip. A lot of people have asked “What’s Next?) – well I definitely want to go back to South America soon. I also would like to raise some money for the children of Santa Catalina to have a trip. Most have never seen the sea, despite the fact that Argentina is not landlocked. I have also had a look at Greenpeace volunteer opportunities which look pretty cool!  So I will let you know how I get on.

I will carry on with the blog – the changes have only just begun and there is way more to do and say.

So thanks for reading and if you have any ideas for fundraising, please don’t hesitate to let me know!